Sometimes it even happens with us.
People argue. Even physically fight. Bring each other to the brink of tears. Cause divisions as others take sides.
Marriages rupture. Families split apart. Businesses, schools, church communities, countries, split into factions.
All of it begins when two people don't understand each other's personalities or viewpoints, don't guess at what experiences or wounds lie hidden beneath each other's carefully constructed appearances, have no idea what secret battles are going on in the other's deepest soul.
Two people do not make time to get to know each other, to take the risk that if they get to understand the other's point of view, they might have to change their ideas. Instead they make quick guesses about each other's personalities and motivations and views and then buy into the illusion that their own opinions and stereotypes are the truth.
So the arguments, the separations, the scandals, the gossip, the ruining of reputations and the witch hunts begin.
Each one of us is an entire universe of thoughts, feelings, memories, strengths, weaknesses, gifts, limitations, wonder, searching, addictions, anxieties, insecurities, fears, hopes and dreams. Each one of us is capable of evil. Each one of us is capable of good. You only have to look inside yourself to believe this.
Each one of us is a universe that someone has tramped through and destroyed parts of, sometimes irreparably. Each one of us is a universe that we fight a daily secret battle to preserve in the face of inner and outer enemies.
We are all interconnected simply because we are all human beings. We are all interdependent, built up or torn down by a daily tenuous balance between action and reaction, love and hate, peace and war, community and separatism, truth and lies.
And our common humanity, our common gift of immortal souls, call upon us to take the responsibility to work to overcome our divisions, or, even more importantly, to not start them. Simply by being kind. Always. By getting to know one another. By looking at each person we meet as a potential friend. By being willing to listen, and if we hear the truth, be willing to change. By seeing past another's hurtful words and actions to the raging angers and hurts and battles inside. Not to condone. But to understand.
St. Paul says it so well to the community at Corinth, a community riddled by class warfare, competitiveness, factionalism, and selfishness: " I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose." (1 Corinthians 10.)
Dearest brothers and sisters, please! Be Kind. Always.